Finding a foundation for my combination/oily and acne-prone skin is a pain as it is. Finding a foundation suitable for my skin type that can also survive the Hong Kong heat and humidity is frustratingly challenging. I need medium to high coverage that doesn’t feel heavy, with great lasting power against humidity, sweat, and excess oil. A bonus challenge: despite a great diversity of brands available in Hong Kong, including mid-price ranged brands like L’Oreal, Revlon, and Maybelline, this city often doesn’t carry the whole range. So with my warm, slightly tanned skin tone, it’s not easy to find a foundation that matches both my complexion and my budget. Here is my take on five very different foundations I’ve used over the years.
Nars Sheer Glow Foundation
Shade: Santa Fe (Medium2)
Preferred application tool: MAC 187 Duo Fibre Face Brush
I quite like Nars Sheer Glow, but it takes a bit of prep work. Easily spreadable with buildable medium to full coverage, it feels very light and hides minor imperfections flawlessly. When you take a little time to really buff it out with the MAC 187, it looks close to an air-brushed finish. However, the formula is just a little bit drying, and starts looking a bit cakey around my t-zone after about five hours. So, to prolong its longevity as much as possible, I prep my skin with a cleanse and a moisture-rich masque, followed by my regular moisturising routine before application, and set it with as little of the finest powder possible. I wouldn’t wear this foundation on a daily basis, because I don’t like how it looks by the end of the day. But Nars Sheer Glow is great for an event, like a wedding banquet, when you know you won’t have it on for too long. And because it contains only a minimum amount of titanium dioxide, it looks as good in photographs as it does in person. One thing I don’t like, as with all Nars products, is the black parts of the packaging, which gets sticky after a while. So wipe it clean of dust regularly to avoid build-up.
Value for money: A little goes a long way
Overall rating: 7/10
Guinot Youth Time Foundation
Preferred application tool: Clean fingers or Beautyblender
This is a super handy foundation, and one I used on a daily basis for a good 18 months. This is a cream foundation that doesn’t spread as easily as liquid foundations, so on its own it takes a Beautyblender or a MAC 190 Foundation Brush to work onto your skin without tugging on it. It offers good coverage though, so building it up isn’t really necessary. To apply with my fingers and to get it to spread easier, I like to mix it with a little of my moisturiser if my complexion is clearer and doesn’t need too much coverage. When I need better coverage, I mix it with a little bit of In A Good Light SPF 30+ Tinted Facial Sunscreen from Mecca instead. It has a natural finish, and I set it with my Nars pressed Powder Foundation in Barcelona, or my Nars Loose Powder in Desert. It has fairly good lasting power and doesn’t dry my skin out, but I do need to touch up with a compact about seven hours into wearing it.
Price: HK$570 (I was given this as a gift, so that’s an approx. amount based on online prices)
Value for money: I’ve almost always mixed it with a moisturiser or tinted sunscreen, so it’s lasted quite a while
Overall rating: 7.5/10
Make Up For Ever High Definition Foundation
Shade: 128 Almond
Preferred application tool: Beautyblender
I love this foundation, it’s light with medium to full coverage that stays on all day long. (I don’t often forget to take off my make up at the end of the day, because…ew. But I’ve slept in this foundation before, and I still look acceptable in the morning.) I’d use it on a daily basis, but it’s a little pricy so I tend to alternate and only use it on days when I know I’ll be out that night. You don’t need a lot to cover your whole face though, so it’s actually still fairly good for value. The formula is easy to blend onto your skin, and covers superficial flaws very well. I barely use concealer when I use this HD Foundation. It feels very fine and has a natural finish, and I set it with the corresponding translucent Make Up For Ever HD Powder. With the beautiful finish it gives me, I’ve found it’s easier to reach for blushes I haven’t used for a long time. Just avoid really shimmer blushes, it can look super cheap against its natural finish.
Value for money: A little goes a long way, and for its performance, I feel it’s worth the extra buck
Overall rating: 10/10
Revlon PhotoReady™ Makeup
Shade: 005 Natural Beige
Preferred application tool: Beautyblender
I purchased this because I wanted a high-performing liquid foundation I can use on a daily basis, so I don’t go through my MUFE one too quickly, and this one is pretty good. It isn’t as fine as the MUFE HD Foundation, but it looks natural as long as you don’t pack on too much of it. It has a decent coverage, so just a thin layer will do, and the formula can be easily blended and lasts all day. Having said that, you do need to work with it a little more for it to look perfect. Meaning, I buff it out a little longer for that natural finish, and I minimise the powder I use on top of it. I still set it with the MUFE HD Powder, but I avoid my cheeks where I know my blush with go. Basically, I limit it to one type of powder on top of this foundation, and I also avoid my under-eye area where my concealer goes. You’re supposed to avoid foundation around the eyes and use concealer products there instead anyway, so no biggie. While it’s natural, it has a more dewy finish that borders on a subtle shimmer. Some people don’t like it, but I don’t mind it. It makes it look naturally glowy even when you start getting a little bit oily around the t-zone, so it’s all good. I wish Hong Kong carried more shades though. There were only three available at SaSa, and I went with Natural Beige, which was the darkest, but I think I actually need it one shade darker and slightly warmer.
Value for money: I’ve found just one pump is enough for daily use, so I anticipate this lasting a while
Overall rating: 8/10 (two points off because you need to work with it to find out how best to make this work for you. Other wise, it’s all good.)
Rodial BB Venom Skin Tint
Preferred application tool: Don’t get me started
I’m sure this works for some people, but I hate this product. It offers high coverage, but it’s so difficult to spread and blend, my skin feels punished by the time I manage to apply it evenly. Its consistency is very different from testing it on the back of your hand to actually using it on your face. It looks super creamy and smooth, and feels so lightweight on the back of your hand. But I think maybe it reacts to my moisturiser, and it becomes almost like watered-down Play-Doh or lumpy greasepaint on my face. The first time I used it I applied it with my fingers, and I thought maybe I’d squeezed out too much product, so I used less the next time, but it was equally difficult to blend. The product kind of just moves around in blobs and I had to apply a lot of pressure to get it to blend. So then I used a little less product again and with a different moisturiser underneath and I applied it with my Beautyblender; still impossible to use. Finally, I tried to make use of it by using it as a concealer; still no luck. I’ve given up on this product, it’s no good for me. I’m sure there is someone who swears by it, but it’s not for me. Better luck with a new product next time!
Price: I received this as a gift, but I think it’s HK$390 from Joyce Beauty
Value for money: For those who find a way for this to work for them, that’s not a bad price for the quantity of product you get.
Overall rating: 2/10 (one point for the coverage, and one for the volume.)